‘Friday the 13th’ Movies Ranked, from the 1980 Original and ‘A New Beginning’ to ‘Jason X’ and ‘Freddy vs. Jason’
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film ‘Friday the 13th’ Movies Ranked, from the 1980 Original and ‘A New Beginning’ to ‘Jason X’ and ‘Freddy vs. Jason’

‘Friday the 13th’ Movies Ranked, from the 1980 Original and ‘A New Beginning’ to ‘Jason X’ and ‘Freddy vs. Jason’



‘Friday the 13th’ Movies Ranked, from the 1980 Original and ‘A New Beginning’ to ‘Jason X’ and ‘Freddy vs. Jason’

Of all the slasher and horror movie franchises like “Scream,” “Saw,” “Evil Dead,” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Friday the 13th” is maybe the simplest. All those other slashers have some gimmicks to set them apart from the pack, from “Nightmare on Elm Street’s” dream killer concept to “Scream’s” self-aware subversive streak. Most entries in the “Friday the 13th” franchise, on the other hand, are platonic ideals of the slasher: there’s a masked murderer, some sexy teens, and an abandoned campsite for everyone to run around in.

That said, it took awhile for “Friday the 13th” to become what everyone thinks of when they think “Friday the 13th.” The series started in earnest with the 1980 original, a clear attempt to copy the success of John Carpenter’s “Halloween” that nonetheless proved a box office success and helped establish that slasher films were here to stay in popular film. But the original movie, about a group of camp counselors knocked off one by one as they attempt to reopen the Crystal Lake camp, doesn’t feature Jason Voorhees as the killer: famously, it’s actually his mom Pamela (Betsy Palmer), enacting revenge for the death of her son due to the negligence of his old counselors.

But the film ended on a twist ending that teased Jason was still alive, and he came back — now a fully grown adult — in the quickly made 1981 sequel. The 3D third film in 1982 saw him ditch the burlap sack he wore in that film in favor of the bloody hockey mask that became his sequel, and the formula was fully established. Across nine other movies, Jason became one of the iconic horror slashers, engaging in all sorts of antics. He died twice. He got revived once. He fought Freddy Kruger. He (barely) took Manhattan. And, of course, he went to space. The franchise had its highs, and its lows, and many false endings, but after “Jason X,” it largely went away, followed by a single crossover movie and a failed 2009 reboot. For over a decade it lay dormant, before prequel series news surfaced last year, because Jason clearly doesn’t stay dead forever.

Most slasher franchises generally have at least one entry that’s acclaimed by critics, even if the sequels fail to live up to standards. “Friday the 13th” doesn’t really have that. From the very beginning, movies in the series were lucky to get mixed or tepid reviews from critics; savage pans were much more common. And it’s true that the series lacks a genuine great film that measures up to the likes of a genuine classic like the original “Halloween.” Still, the franchise has a grip on horror fans for a reason. At its simplest, the lean, mean nastiness of the franchise’s premise is a good vehicle for fun, creative kills. At the wackiest, there’s some camp value to the absurdity of a movie where Jason Voorhees goes to space. “Friday the 13th” has a lot of bad movies in it — but even the worst of the movies (okay, except for one) have some sort of appeal.

In honor of an October Friday the 13th this 2023, let’s revisit the good, the bad, and the horrible from one of horror’s most iconic slasher franchises. Here are all 12 of the “Friday the 13th” films, ranked from worst to best.

With editorial contributions by Kate Erbland.

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